You pull onto the soft verge
And the tyres slacken into the dirt.
I pass the field-glasses
From the glove compartment
And you fumble, finding a focus
Through the action of the wipers
And describe it to me: how it
Hangs in the shallows, shaking the rain
From its featherings. How it watches,
Then cautiously adopts
Its fishing position, then wades
Thoughtfully forward, then holds again.
You go on piecing out the picture
And I affect not to listen
Until you put the glasses down
And I realise you’ve stopped talking.
We sit there, breathing, steaming up
The windows and watching
As the heron feints
To a fleck on the line of the lake
Like a wood-chip flaw
On slate Ingres paper
And the hilltops are water-marked
If we look hard enough.
From The North No 1 (1986)